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Homemade Chili Oil: My All-Purpose Condiment

Homemade Chili Oil
Busy cooks know this: life is better and easier when you have a pantry full of things that keep for a long time without refrigeration and can be used in multiple ways at a moment’s notice. That is why this fragrant and fiery chili oil (not to be confused with nam prik pao) is always found in my pantry as well as the pantries* of my loved ones who are often gifted with a jar of it every now and then. We love it so.

Let’s be clear on one thing first, though: you’ll hardly ever see this condiment used in traditional Thai stir-fries, curries, soups, or salads. Even noodle shops in Thailand don’t usually have this available for you on the table as part of their seasoning caddy (on the other hand, you’ll see plain dried chili powder which is the norm). Chili oil is something you’ll most likely see at a Chinese restaurant. Continue Reading →

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Spicy Fresh Tomato “Hell” Relish (น้ำพริกมะเขือเทศ)

Spicy Fresh Tomato Relish
A few weeks ago, I had a short conversation with @dawnwow on Twitter who said to me that she had always felt like pico de gallo was a flavor short of being Thai. I completely agreed with her. In fact, if you’re familiar with both Mexican and Thai cuisines, surely you’ve noticed some similarities as well (compare the roasted tomato sauce accompanying “crying tiger” in Simple Thai Food with roasted tomato salsa, for example).

That dialogue reminded me of a quick relish I frequently made when I was a new student in the US which, for some reason, I don’t make nearly as often any more. Back then, though, I practically lived on it. There would always be a batch in the refrigerator, ready to be used on anything I could afford to make or bring home. As a cash-challenged student, those things usually included a Thai omelet, some hard-boiled or medium-boiled eggs, or a store-bought rotisserie chicken one of which would last me for 3-4 days.

There were a small repertoire of quick, simple, affordable, and highly versatile dishes like this relish that saw me through those days when I had very little time and even less money. In many ways, I feel I owe my life to them. Continue Reading →

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My Book – Simple Thai Food: Classic Recipes from the Thai Home Kitchen

Simple Thai Food by Leela Punyaratabandhu
Remember when the Zealous Water Buffalo told you many months ago that I was writing a book? Well, it’s done. Simple Thai Food: Classic Recipes from the Thai Home Kitchen won’t be available until around mid-May, but if you preorder it now, you will be among the first people to get it.

That’s not all, if you preorder the book now, you will be given access to a video tutorial on how to make red curry from scratch, from the homemade paste to the finished dish. I do not intend on making this video public on the blog or elsewhere, at least within the next year or so. So it will be available immediately to only the early birds among you and no one else. So, please be sure to keep the email confirmation from your bookseller of choice (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, iBooks, and Google Books) when you preorder.

You have until Thai New Year (April 13) to do so which is when I will tell you how to redeem your gift.

But first, let me tell you a bit about the book so you know what you’re investing in. In keeping with the theme of simplicity, I will sum up this book into one sentence. Continue Reading →

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